Hanako Yamada was the pen name of Yumi Takaichi, born June 10 1967. Her parents were fervent communists, and unlike most Japanese children, Takaichi was brought up without immersion in the Buddhist or Shinto religions. After she graduated from the Japan Design School, her work began appearing in a number of commercial magazines. In 1987, at the age of twenty, she was given the prestigious Young Magazine Tetsuya Chiba Award and was well on her way to a successful commercial career. After a tumultuous correspondence with Takjashi Nemoto, she began, at his urging, to publish in Garo, while continuing her work in the commercial field.
Here underground manga invariably deals with a young person unable to fit in. It is therefore telling that what attracted Takaichi to the name Hanako Yamada was its very commonness (the equivalent of “Mary Smith” in America). From the outset, her manga was marked by a desperate, misanthropic nihilism, filled with hallucination and fear. The frankly confessional nature of her work became sadly apparent when in 1993, after a brief stay in a mental institution, Hanako Yamada committed suicide.